Friday 1 November 2013

Our Nottingham Weekend


This weekend was part one of two spent up north visiting friends. First stop, Nottingham.

The main reason for making the trip was a birthday tradition - I'd been there for my friend’s 21st and 22nd, so her 23rd was to be no exception. Although a London lady through and through, I love to spend time in other cities. In previous trips there had been a fair amount of chatting on the sofa, but this time I felt I got to see a great deal more.

Before we set off, just a little London travel tip. If you're looking for something to eat when catching a train at St Pancras, and don't want the disappointment of a fridge-cold, soggy sandwich, head straight for Sourced Market. We had a delicious dinner of falafel wraps, baba ghanoush, and a lentil curry that they heat up for you to take away. Stinking up the train and getting all those funny looks was completely worth it.

We arrived in Nottingham at 9:30pm, which was perfect timing to be picked up from the station and walked to the Broadway cinema and bar.

At the Broadway, you can enjoy drinks whilst watching a film projected up on the walls (see picture above of us doing just that!). That Friday night was the screening of the Bruce Lee classic ‘Enter The Dragon’. It was the perfect choice because with so much action and visual excitement, you didn't really mind popping to the bar, or having a chat.

Only my boyfriend had seen the film before, which helped when following the story... especially at the end when the DVD skipped and we went from Bruce about to fight the bad guy, to Bruce surrounded by dead bodies, looking bashed and bruised having just saved the day. We were all able to laugh though, as despite the skip the evening had still been great fun. That’s the thing about other cities. In London, you would have been overcharged for entry and bar, and a glitch like this would have caused an uproar, but with drinks being cheap and no extra charge for the film, it didn’t really matter.

Saturday was a bit of a slow start, but in the afternoon (with a quick detour through the pub) we had a look around Nottingham Contemporary. Although this gallery is small, it housed some great work. The main exhibition on display was Geoffrey Farmer's 'Let's Make The Water Turn Black'.

A conceptual Canadian artist, this is his most ambition installation yet. Influenced by Frank Zappa's composition of the same name, Farmer's 70 sculptures are constructed from found materials including old movie and theatre props, and are animated in correspondence to a soundtrack composed of field recordings of places that Zappa recorded and played.

The installation was incredibly abstract, and though I put my hands up and admit that I probably didn't understand Farmer's message fully, that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. It was nice to sit and watch as these "characters" came alive for a few seconds, and I love knowing that because of the ever-changing combination of sound, light and movement, no other visitor will have the same experience.

The other exhibition at the gallery was 'Asco : No Movies'. Mainly photographic, it depicted the street performances of the Asco group, made up of four Chicano artists who emerged during the time of the 60s/70s civil rights movement.

After an hour of culture, it was time to start the birthday celebrations. First to Pepper Rocks, which served £3.50. No, not 13, which would be the norm for a Saturday in London, but THREE, which they offer from 5-8pm every night. Even the Nottingham residents hadn’t been there before, so this little place, tucked away down Pepper Street, really was a find. I broke my Tom Collins virginity and sampled the Long Island Iced Tea too; both where very tasty indeed.

Unfortunately there was only time for one, as we had a table waiting. We all piled onto a bus and headed Beeston-way, to a newly opened restaurant called Café Roya. This incredible vegetarian eatery started off in the back of a pub kitchen. As the dishes grew more popular, Roya and her team opened up on Wollaton Road back in April. There is a three week waiting list so when we all finally got to sitting down, the Birthday Girl was unsure whether the hype and anticipation might lead to a bit of a let down - she didn’t need to worry! Their menu changes every month, but the waiter confessed that he thought that October’s was the best yet.

There are three options for each course on the menu, and with a table of ten, we knew we could all get a taste of everything if we asked nicely! To start I had the fennel and celeriac soup, which was zested (new word?!) with lots of orange. My boyfriend had Patatas a la Probe, slow fried potatoes and onions with chorizo. Yes, vegetarian chorizo - we were informed this was the creation of the second chef, after a whole month of research and trials.

I went for our table’s most popular main, the beetroot, red cabbage and pumpkin curry, served with rice, banana raita and an amazing pickle (and yes, it was bright pink!). Absolutely delicious. It passed the ultimate good food test, which is when it arrives, you’re already sad about it being over. The cannelloni and the mushrooms were apparently also very good.

Too stuffed for pudding, we all got to sample a coconut truffle, which were described and tasted like “a posh Bounty”. My friend was also given a little glass of homemade organic Limoncello, which was miles better than a branded version. I say that as a big Limoncello fan.

What a super meal it was. When the rain started to pour down, they brought another bottle of wine, and I genuinely felt they were as happy to have us as we were to be there.

When it was a little drier, we jumped back onto the bus to town, and finished the night in The Horn In Hand. Surrounded by mummies and super heroes (I’d completely forgotten it was Halloween weekend), we enjoyed a few drinks whilst belting out the brilliant soundtrack of tunes. There is a modern computerized jukebox where you could choose from thousands of songs, but unfortunately the Horn closed at 1am before it could get to our selections.

After carrying on the party at home until 4:30 (and having already change the clocks it was actually 5:30), you can hopefully appreciate that Sunday was a bit of a quiet one. We tried to go out for a full-english, but unfortunately the caff was closed, so we made our own at home which was just as good. As St Jude was howling outside, it was probably best to stay in the warmth anyway.

What a brilliant weekend, with huge thanks to all involved. Lots of laughs, and lots of wonderful new experiences.

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